Lover's Knot, c. 1820
The Monmouth County Historical Association was founded on an October afternoon in 1898 over tea. Residents from Freehold, Atlantic Highlands, Sea Bright, Asbury Park, Shrewsbury, and Colts Neck met at the home of Caroline Gallup Reed. Reed, who ran a successful girls' school in New York City, summered in Monmouth County. Local newspapers followed the developments of the new historical organization eagerly. The Association's original mission statement read:
"...To discover, procure, preserve and perpetuate whatever may relate to Monmouth County’s history, genealogy,
and biography, and all that pertains to the welfare and honor of Monmouth County."
- Freehold Transcript and Monmouth Inquirer, October 28, 1898
Over the next 125 years, the Monmouth County Historical Association would construct a dedicated headquarters building in Freehold in 1931, add five historic houses, and amass a collection of more than 30,000 artifacts and objects as well as a Library and Archives Collection that represents Monmouth's fascinating history up to the present day From Lenni Lenape arrow points and grinding stones to oral history interviews detailing modern Monmouth's experiences, the Monmouth County Historical Association has lived up to its original mission with exhibitions, programs, tours, and events.
Civil War Surgical Kit, c. 1860
"Highlights: 125 Years of the Monmouth County Historical Association" will feature 125 of the best, most interesting, and intriguing objects, artifacts, and archival materials from the collection. Among the items on view will be the 1695 Rhea Chair, a rare copy of the 1664 Monmouth Patent, paintings, furniture, textiles, and more. And of course, visitors will be able to view the powerful and dramatic "Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth," painted by Emanuel Leutze in 1857.
Suggested Admission Prices
Child 6-12 $5
Children 5 and under / Veterans: Free
Hours of Operation
Wed - Saturday 1- 4 pm
The exhibition will run through Spring, 2024
70 Court Street, Freehold, NJ 07728
Ever wonder what goes into building an exhibit?
Check out this five-minute video to catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the process!
In 1868, Julia Norton Hartshorne ordered a brand new wardrobe to take advantage of the latest style trends. Her husband, Benjamin Minturn Hartshorne, was born and raised in Monmouth County and ran a successful steamboat company along the West Coast. The couple and their three children traveled from their home in San Francisco for an extended summer visit with Benjamin's family in Middletown. Upon returning, Julia fell ill and died in February 1869. Benjamin packed away all of Julia's things and returned with his children to Monmouth County. Through the generosity of Hartshorne family descendants, Julia's Wardrobe is now part of the Association's historic textile collection. On view in our second-floor galleries, eight stunning gowns in an array of silk, satin, lace, and plush velvet contrast with summer cotton prints. Join us as we introduce you to Julia and explore her style and personality with this intimate look at Julia's Wardrobe.
Friday - Sun 1-4 pm
127 Kings Hwy, Middletown
Beneath the Floorboards
Whispers of the Enslaved at Marlpit Hall
This exhibition is the first major development stemming from the Living and Breathing initiative, started in late 2019 as a means of reinterpreting MCHA’s colonial-era historic houses to include the stories of the enslaved African Americans who once resided within them. It seeks to offer a better understanding of how slavery took root in early Monmouth County, as well as the complex dynamics of daily life and relationships among the enslaved.
The telling of New Jersey’s history is often fragmented, with little remembrance of the thousands of men, women, and children living under forced servitude for more than two centuries. This exhibit is framed upon seven of these individuals: Ephraim, William, Elizabeth, Clarisse, Hannah, Tom, and York, all of whom once lived at Marlpit Hall.
Extensive archival documentation, archaeological evidence, and objects from MCHA’s museum collection - some on view to the public for the first time - help tell the larger story of slavery in Monmouth County and New Jersey.
Elizabeth Van Cleaf
Born into slavery at Marlpit Hall